A migrant rights organisation revealed that security forces in eastern Libya conducted a successful raid, liberating at least 385 Pakistani migrants who were being held captive in trafficking warehouses. According to Al-Abreen, the group assisting migrants in Libya, the Pakistani nationals were freed in the Al-Khueir area, located approximately 5 miles south of Tobruk. After their release, the migrants, including children, were taken to a nearby police headquarters. Esreiwa Salah, an activist with Al-Abreen, informed The Associated Press that these Pakistani migrants had initially intended to travel to Europe but were detained by smugglers who demanded a ransom for their release. However, no further details were provided.
Various pictures shared on Al-Abreen’s official Facebook page depicted dozens of supposedly freed Pakistani migrants seated outside a warehouse.
Libya serves as the primary transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East attempting to reach Europe. The nation descended into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising led to the downfall and death of longtime autocrat Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Over the past decade, Libya has been under the rule of rival governments in the east and west, each backed by different militias and foreign powers.
Exploiting the decade-long instability, human traffickers engage in smuggling migrants across borders from six nations, including Egypt, Algeria, and Sudan. These traffickers then overcrowd ill-equipped rubber boats and other vessels with desperate migrants seeking a better life in Europe, setting them on perilous voyages across the Central Mediterranean Sea route.
In June, a vessel carrying approximately 700 migrants, including around 350 Pakistanis, sank off the Greek coast. Sadly, only 104 people, including 12 Pakistanis, were rescued from the tragic incident.
Pakistan is currently grappling with an economic crisis, compelling many young men to seek job opportunities abroad. As a result, numerous Pakistanis choose to travel to Libya with the aspiration of eventually reaching European shores.
Source: Arab News